Secondary school pupils will have to wear masks - but not in the classroom

Ellen Manning
·2-min read

Watch: Coronavirus: Older children and teachers in England must wear face masks

All secondary school pupils and staff will have to wear face coverings when moving around schools, according to new government guidance.

But children will not have to wear masks in the classroom, according to the guidance published just hours before the start of the four-week national lockdown in England on Thursday.

Schools, colleges, universities, nurseries and childminders can stay open during the second national lockdown.

Extra-curricular activities can be held before and after school – but only for childcare purposes rather than simply for sports clubs.

File photo dated 31/08/20 of students at St Columba's High School, Gourock, wearing protective face masks as they head to lessons. All students and teachers in secondary schools and colleges in England should wear face coverings when moving around the premises, according to new Government guidance.
All students and teachers in secondary schools and colleges in England will have to wear face coverings when moving around the premises, according to new Government guidance. (PA)

According to the guidance, all students and staff in secondary schools and colleges will be required to wear face coverings in communal spaces, outside of classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Primary school children do not need to wear face coverings, and older children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities may be exempt.

The Department for Education (DfE) has said no-one should be excluded from education for not having a face covering.

Clinically extremely vulnerable staff and pupils have been advised not to go into school or college.

Small children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown, writing.
Schools and nurseries will be able to stay open during the second national lockdown. (Getty)

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Schools and colleges have been waiting for this guidance since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday, and it is frustrating that it has taken so long to arrive given that they now have to digest and implement these measures in a short timeframe.”

He said: “This extension to the rule on face coverings is a sensible response to rising Covid levels, and will act as an extra level of protection on top of the other safety measures in schools.

“It is vital that this requirement is respected by all parents and pupils. The vast majority are supportive, but we are aware of schools receiving objections from some parents to existing policies.”

The DfE has said schools should work to implement the guidance as soon as possible, but have until Monday (November 9) if they require additional time.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The Government’s last-minute publication of this guidance does not help schools in this matter one bit.

“Frankly, it is ridiculous that this new guidance has landed on school leaders’ desks less than 24 hours before the start of the national lockdown.

“There is very little in the guidance that could not have been communicated with schools 72 hours ago.”

Watch: Can you catch coronavirus twice?

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